(CBS) — Burglary and theft are two of the most common crimes here in the Midwest and across the country. Now, some police agencies have a new weapon to keep people and their property safe and secure.
But will the evidence hold up in court? CBS 2’s Erin Kennedy reports.
Sheriff David Lain is giving out vials of Smartwater CSI to senior citizens in Porter County, Ind.
“We enjoy a very low crime rate here. But yet, we’re no strangers to burglary,” he says.
Lynne Pixler got one. She dabs it on her smartphone and jewelry.
“It’s odorless, colorless. You don’t know it’s there, but it’s there if you need it,” Pixler says.
Once the liquid dries, it can only be seen under a black light. Each vial has its own unique chemical signatures, Lain says.
The number under the barcode on Pixler’s vial links her to whatever she treats with Smartwater.
“We’ll take a sample of that, send it to the Smartwater lab and they will send the results back, (identifying) you as being the specific owner of that property,” Lain says.
He says he would consider also using Smartwater to catch criminals, like a few police departments in Florida are already doing.
Fort Lauderdale police set up a sting where a thief was sprayed with the Smartwater as he tried to take a purse out of a back seat, allowing police to link him to that particular car and crime.
Suspect Micheal Jackson’s case will become the first one tested in court using this new product as evidence.
“I think there’s a number of issues involved before it’s going to get accepted as part of a criminal trial,” DePaul Law School Assistant Professor Monu Bedi says. “(Courts) will look at what’s the error rate of this product; does it really match up uniquely with each individual owner?”
And he says there are other concerns. For example, if someone unknowlingly buys stolen property marked with Smartwater, they could become suspects.
“It might create problems for people who are completely innocent,” Bedi says.
Smartwater has been used successfully for years to convict criminals in England.
In the meantime, Pixler is confident she’s better protected from would-be burglars.
“I haven’t lost anything yet and I hope I don’t. But it just seems smart to be vigilant,” she says.
Smartwater lasts on products for five years and on skin for weeks or months. The cost for Smartwater kits that include a vial, a black light, warning stickers and signs ranges from $99 to $199.
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